How to vote
If you are on the electoral register you will be sent a poll card just before an election. You can vote:
- In person
- By post
- By proxy
Voting in person
White poll cards are issued to electors who vote in person at a polling station, and this card will state where your polling station is and when you can vote. On the day of the election you should go to your designated polling station between 7am and 10pm to cast your vote. Tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so that they can check you are on the register and eligible to vote. It is helpful to bring along your poll card but it is not essential if you don’t bring it along.
Voting by post
On 31 October 2023 the way you apply for a postal vote changed. You are now required to make separate applications to vote by post in both UK Parliament and Scottish Parliament and council elections.
- For UK Parliament Elections: the easiest way is to apply online at gov.uk/apply-postal-vote. You are required to upload a clear photo of your signature to complete your application.
- For Scottish Elections: you will need to complete a paper form (please use the link below to download a form).
If you are unable to go online to apply for a UK Parliament postal vote, you can use a paper form to apply for a UK Parliament postal vote (please use the link below to download a form).
It is important that you read the guidance on application forms before completing and returning to us. For ways to return your application form, please see our ‘How to return your application form to us’ section at the bottom of this page.
You can find more information about postal voting at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter – You will need to change your location to Scotland.
IMPORTANT: You will need to consider if there would be time for you to receive and return your ballot papers by polling day. If you have been sent a postal vote, you cannot vote in person at a polling station.
Cancelling your postal vote
If you wish to cancel your postal vote, we will require a letter from you with a penned signature asking for this to be carried out. During an election period, postal votes can be cancelled up to 11 working days before the poll.
Voting by proxy
The Elections Act 2022 has introduced several changes to voting and electoral processes. You will now need to provide your date of birth, National Insurance number and signature on your proxy application.
Applications for a long-term proxy vote for overseas voters, Crown Servant & British Council employees or Members of the Armed Forces can be made online at www.gov.uk/apply-proxy-vote. You are required to upload a clear photo of your signature to complete your application.
Long-term proxy vote applications for disability, employment or education reasons can only be renewed by completing a paper application form. This is due to the requirement for the application to be supported by an attestation.
All paper application forms can be found in our list of applications below. For ways to return your application form, please see our ‘How to return your application form to us’ section at the bottom of this page.
The rules about who can be a proxy are different depending on the type of election you want to vote in. Please ensure that you read the notes carefully before completing your application form.
The deadline for ordinary proxy applications is 5pm, on the sixth working day before the poll.
Cancelling your proxy vote
If you have appointed a proxy but change your mind and wish to vote yourself, we will require a letter from you with a penned signature asking for your proxy vote arrangement to be cancelled. During an election period, proxy votes can be cancelled up to 11 working days before the poll.
In some circumstances, an emergency proxy may be granted by the Electoral Registration Officer if you are unable to vote in person due to the following:
- In the case of a medical condition, illness or disability arising after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
- Are a mental health patient detained under civil powers
- If your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station in person and you only become aware of this after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
- For Scottish local council elections, an elector may be able to change their proxy if their appointed proxy’s circumstances have changed and they cannot reasonably be expected to vote at the polling station.
- If you are a Scottish prisoner serving a sentence of 12 months of less (Scottish Parliament and Scottish Local Government elections only)
- If you meet any of the conditions relating to emergency proxies on the grounds of voter identification after the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or Anonymous Elector’s Document at UK parliamentary by-elections from 4 May 2023.
- If the photo ID that you intended to use at a UK Parliamentary General election becomes unavailable after 5pm, on the sixth working day before the election and you don’t have any other form of acceptable photo ID that you can use
Both you and your proxy must be registered and eligible to vote.
Further information on emergency proxies can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website.
Application forms for emergency proxies can be found in our list of applications below. Details of how to return your form can be found in our ‘How to return your application form to us’ section at the bottom of this page.
For an emergency proxy you can apply up until 5pm on the day of the poll.
How to return your application form to us
You can return completed application forms to any of our offices by post or by email to [email protected] – we can only accept black & white clear scanned images under 50MB (51200kB). We cannot accept photographs of application forms. Address details can be found on our forms or here
If you are having any difficulties with the completion of the form or require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Electoral Registration Officer on 0800 393 783 or e-mail [email protected]
View our full list of application forms